Spend Happy Hour with the Regulars at the Grizzled Wizard

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The Place: The Grizzled Wizard, 2317 N. 45th St., 394-4749, WALLINGFORD.

The Hours: 4-8 p.m. daily

The Digs: Most bars--the likes of Rob Roy, Zig Zag, Hazlewood, etc.--are impossible to judge based on the name. An out-of-towner (at least one without a subscription to Esquire) may guess Rob Roy as an unfortunately named dude and not one of the finest bars in town. But the Grizzled Wizard? It exactly, perfectly, lives up to its name.

There are darts, a Galaga arcade machine, a rockin' jukebox, and a larger-than-life mural of one very grizzly wizard. There are regulars like chatty, admittedly braless Dory ("like the fish in Finding Nemo," she begrudgingly clarifies), who is already three sheets to the wind at 6 p.m. She talks of the owner, Joe, who tends the bar on weeknights, and Ed, who kinda looks like Joe, who's behind the bar now. And she's clearly not the only one who calls the Wiz (I'm totally making up this nickname, by the way) home: there's a dude with a dog and a trio of old friends, and she seems to know the personal story behind every occupied barstool and kilted patron. Weeknights are for regulars, she says, "only the weirdos" hang out there on the weekends.

The Deal: The Grizzled Wizard is the sort of cash-only place where you (thankfully) can't even find a $10 cocktail, so the deal--$2 tallboys of Rainier and Oly, $3 wells and drafts--is hardly worth noting. What is worth noting, however, is that this dark, nondescript bar pours some seriously beer-nerd-worthy local brews from Black Raven, Elysian, and the like, and owner Joe is house-infusing his own spirits. Joe puts his sweet-toothed-mad-scientist skills to work in vodka infusions that feature Swedish fish, gummy bears, rooibos tea, and other experimental flavors; shots--the recommended method to enjoy such strangeness--are $5.

If you're hungry, there are some tasty sounding sandwiches like a bacon grilled cheese and turkey with pesto, but you won't find any deals on these during happy hour. Plus, the best way to truly experience the Wiz is clearly by getting trashed on sugary shots and listening to metal on the juke box, and that goal is easier met on an empty stomach.

The Verdict: It's been too long since an early Saturday evening involved neon-colored shots with old friends and bar nuts. The candy-infused booze--I asked Dory what kind of vodka Joe uses and she said, "just regular-ass vodka!" Duh.--is surprisingly smooth, though cloyingly sweet. Dory, as the regular who clearly knows what's up, chose the rooibos since it's the only one without sugar. "Ed knows his shit," she says. And we wholeheartedly agree.

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